Fox Sports Ohio, SportsTime Ohio and FoxSportsOhio.com are your homes for the 42nd annual OHSAA state football championship games from Stark County. Seven championships will be decided this weekend in Canton and Massillon, including five of 2012’s champions seeking a repeat performance.
FoxSportsOhio.com’s Zac Jackson and Kevin Goheen preview the games, which wrap up Saturday with Divisions V, I and VII going at it for the final three crowns.
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*All games broadcast on SportsTime Ohio and will be available in SW Ohio on Time Warner Cable channel 99.
Who: Columbus Hartley (13-1) vs. Coldwater (12-2) Where: Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium When: Saturday, 11 a.m. AP Rankings: Hartley No. 4; Coldwater No. 6 Key players: Hartley – QB Jared Brandewie; RB Sam Mackowiak, DL Kalil Moore, DB Alonzo Saxton, DL Nick Boeriu; Coldwater – QB/DB Brody Hoying, LB Mitch Schoenherr, DB Adam Klosterman, C/DL Austin Klosterman, OL/DL Blake Spangler. Key stat: These programs have combined for five state championships, six more state finals appearances and a total of 17 state semifinal games. There’s a lot to be said for tradition.
What to watch: It’s expected that Coldwater coach Chip Otten would have plenty of good things about his guy Brody Hoying but Hartley coach Brad Burchfield was even more complimentary of the AP’s Offensive Player of the Year who also has a habit of wreaking havoc on defense. The Cavaliers aren’t the same team that beat Kirtland for the Division V title last season; they’ve turned the page with a new group that grew a lot in confidence from a 41-16 win at Hartley in Week 2. Neither Otten or Burchfield is putting much stock in that game when it comes to this matchup but they are putting stock in their best players. Hartley running back Sam Mackowiak has rushed for 2,042 yards and 29 touchdowns but three-year starter Brandewie is going to have to take control of the offense for Hartley against a Coldwater defense more than 22 points just once this season.
Who: Mentor (13-1) vs. Cincinnati Moeller (13-1) Where: Canton Fawcett Stadium When: Saturday, 3 p.m. AP Rankings: Mentor No. 6; Moeller No. 5 Key players: Mentor – QB Conner Krizancic, WR Brandon Fritts, RB Eddie Daugherty, OL Mitch Morrison, DL Kent Berger, DL Nico Lautanen, LB Justin McMahon; Moeller – QB Gus Ragland, DL Chalmer Frueauf, S Sam Hubbard, WR Isaiah Gentry, LB Will Mercurio, OL Jared Jacob-Duffy, DL Elijah Taylor. Key stat: Mentor has scored at least 26 points in all but one game – a 26-6 loss to Cleveland St. Ignatius in Week 2. The Cardinals turned the tables on St. Ignatius with a 26-3 win in the playoffs. Moeller has only four times allowed more than 17 points to an opponent this season. What to watch: Both teams were the No. 2 seeds in the reconfigured big school two-region setup so it’s no shock either is here. Moeller won its first state title since 1985 last year when it shut down a high-powered Toledo Whitmer team that had beaten Mentor in the semifinals. The Moeller defense is better this season with defensive lineman Frueauf and Taylor backed up by Ohio State commit Hubbard. The two quarterbacks – Ragland for Moeller and Krizancic for Mentor – have similar builds and styles, although Krizancic will throw more than Ragland. Both are more than capable of dominating the game. Whichever defense can slow down the opposing quarterback has a big leg up. Mentor won’t be intimidated by the Moeller name; they went through the gauntlet that is Lakewood St. Edward and St. Ignatius each of the past two seasons to get deep into the playoffs. Mentor is seeking to become the first Division I public school to beat three private/Catholic schools in the same postseason since the OHSAA went to five divisions in 1994.
Who: Glouster Trimble (14-0) vs. Maria Stein Marion Local (14-0) Where: Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium When: Saturday, 7 p.m. AP Rankings: Trimble No. 3 (tie); Marion Local No. 1 Key players: Trimble – QB Konner Standley, WR/DB Austin Downs, RB Justice Jenkins, RB/LB Jacob Koons, OL/DL Jon Stevens, OL/DL Micah Couch; Marion Local – QB/DB Adam Bertke, OL Jason Brunswick, DB/P Dustin Rethman, LB Jacob Kunkler, WR Troy Homan, DL Peyton Kremer. Key stat: Marion Local has won every game by double digits, by a minimum of 11 points, and only once held to less than 28 points. Trimble has eight shutouts to its credit and allowed more than 14 points just once.
What to watch: There probably isn’t a soul outside of Athens County who thinks Trimble stands a chance against Marion Local. That’s not a knock against Trimble but more of a tribute to Marion Local, which won the vaunted Midwestern Athletic Conference title over the likes of Division VII semifinalist Delphos St. John’s and Division V finalist Coldwater. But Marion Local coach Tim Goodwin is well aware of Trimble, which gave Newark Catholic all it could handle in the playoffs last year before bowing out by seven points in the second round. The longer the Trimble defense can keep its team in the game, the more intriguing the possibility of one of the biggest upsets in OHSAA playoff history becomes. The Tomcats are going to have to hit some big plays. While they scored 40-plus points nine times this season, none have happened the last three games.